Hitwise: Social + Local More Powerful

In the wake of the InsiderPages sale announcement yesterday, Hitwise’s LeeAnn Prescott compares traffic to Yelp, InsiderPages and Judy’s Book vs. the “major” sites like Yahoo! Local and Google Maps. There’s no inclusion of IYP sites in this analysis.

First Yelp et al.:

Hitwise data shows that the market share of US visits to Insider Pages was up 34% in the past 6 months (August 2006 vs. February 2007). The market share of visits to Yelp, another user-generated local review site, was up by an impressive 91% in the same period. Judy’s Book did not show an increase, although traffic jumped in September and October 2006 when it received a substantial increase in traffic from Local.com, suggesting a content deal that was turned off. (She means “on” here.)

The major sites have “10x” the traffic and market share of the smaller social directory sites, but the growth rates of the latter are faster. Prescott adds:

Based on traffic to Local.com, Yahoo! Local and Live Local Search, it does not appear that interest in local search is increasing, but the substantial growth in Yelp’s traffic indicates that the social networking/local search combo is an effective means of engaging users around local content. The demographic and lifestyle differences between Yelp’s user base and that of other local search sites are quite interesting, and merit another post – look for one next week.

I might spin the data a different way. I think, as I’ve said before, the interest is there and larger than most people recognize but the addition of community content to local sites makes for a more compelling and engaging experience than simple business listings contact information.

Ask’s CEO Jim Lanzone said to me early on that he thought local wasn’t “a vertical,” but rather “part of every vertical.” This is what I’m arguing in a way: that there’s a local element (major or minor) to most things happening online. That’s part of what makes it so interesting and significant, but also so fragmented and challenging.

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